How Does Working Longer Affect Your Social Security Benefits?

If you’re like many seniors, Social Security benefits will make up the majority of your income during retirement. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, half of older Americans rely on Social Security for at least 50% of their income, and 25% rely on it for 90% of their income.

You may be working longer, too. U.S. workers between 62 and 65 are working at the highest rates since data began being recorded in the 1960s. And those over 65 are about twice as likely to be working today as those in 1985, with around 20% still in the workforce (though there was a slight downturn during the pandemic).

To me, the first set of statistics highlights the importance of Social Security benefits to your retirement life — and the need to maximize those benefits. The number of Americans working longer tells me that a lot of you may want to know how working longer can affect your benefits, and how you can make the most of those earning years.

Social Security & Working Past ‘Retirement’

Some people who work longer delay receiving Social Security benefits so those benefits can grow. As you probably know, you can increase your Social Security benefits by delaying the date at which you begin receiving them. In other words, the longer you wait to collect your benefits, the bigger your benefit (until age 70, at which point they stop growing). You can use the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s calculator to figure out how much you could earn by waiting.

I think there’s another, unsung perk to working longer: You could increase your benefits by delaying credits and by bumping up the earnings numbers used to calculate those benefits. Social Security calculates your monthly benefit by using your 35 highest-earning years (until age 70). As long as you keep working and paying into Social Security, your earnings record will keep being updated. If the money you make in later years outweighs what you made earlier, your benefits will increase accordingly.

Some Pros to Working Longer (And a Few Heads-Up)

Working past the more traditional retirement age of 65 may boost more than your Social Security benefits.

  • Any future spousal benefits would increase, too.
  • You may stay sharper. Several studies show that people demonstrate higher mental acuity if they continue to work. These studies show it’s likely due to the social networks and mental challenges of work.
  • You may save money by sticking with your employer’s healthcare instead of using Medicare, especially if your spouse is covered by your plan and not eligible for Medicare. The rules around signing up for Medicare can be complicated, but Medicare.gov says, “Generally if you have job-based health insurance through your (or your spouse’s) current job, you don’t have to sign up for Medicare while you (or your spouse) are still working. You can wait to sign up until you (or your spouse) stop working, or you lose your health insurance (whichever comes first).” There are exceptions, though, and you may want to consider delaying Part B but sign up for Part A because it’s free. Be aware: If you enroll in Medicare, even just Part A, you can’t contribute to a health savings account.

A Few Additional Heads-Up

If you have traditional retirement accounts, you may run into some required minimum distribution (RMD) issues. Thanks to the 2019 SECURE Act, you don’t have to begin withdrawing RMDs until April 1 of the year after you reach 72, but if you’re still working at that point, your RMD income could bump you into a higher income tax bracket.

You’ll have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits if your total income is over $25,000 if filing as a single person or $32,000 if you’re married and filing a joint return. Your annual income (including any income from RMDs) will determine the percentage of your Social Security benefits that are subject to income tax.

In addition, higher earners might pay more for Medicare Parts B and D. As mentioned earlier, you could stick with your employer’s healthcare plan to avoid this issue.

Another thing to think about: You can “unretire” after signing up for Social Security, within limits. Changed your mind and want to delay retirement benefits and earn credits instead? If you change your mind within 12 months of taking your benefits, you can request a withdrawal of benefits and take them later when you qualify for a larger benefit. There’s a caveat though — you’ll have to repay all the benefits you and any family members received. If it’s been longer than a year since you started receiving your benefits, you’ll have to wait until your full retirement age to ask for a suspension of benefits.

Should You Work Longer?

When making this decision, I suggest you consider not just your financial situation, but also:

  • Health: Think about your health — and that of your spouse — and your healthcare needs. As mentioned earlier, working later in life can be beneficial to your mental health, but how does it affect your physical health? And how is your spouse’s health? Do they need more help around the house? Do you need to continue working to help pay for medical treatments? Don’t forget to consider the fact that time spent at work is time away from your family.
  • Longevity: Do you come from a long-lived family? Working longer and delaying taking Social Security will both boost your retirement income, which is extra important for those with long life expectancies ahead of them. I suggest you plan to make your money last as long as you do.
  • Your job: Do you like it? Does it make you feel younger?

And of course, take your salary into account. Though ageism in the workplace can be a problem, it may not be an issue for everyone. Some companies may value the experience and wisdom of older workers. In fact, the median earnings of working Americans ages 62 to 65 exceed those of younger workers.

All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author, Ken Moraif, as of the date of publication and are subject to change. Ken Moraif is a controlling owner and investment adviser representative of MMWKM Advisors, LLC, doing business as Retirement Planners of America (RPOA), which is an SEC registered investment adviser. Registration as an investment adviser is not an endorsement by securities regulators and does not imply that RPOA has attained a certain level of skill, training, or ability. Ken Moraif has worked in the financial services industry since 1988 and has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional since 1998. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™ and federally registered CFP in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements. Readers should not rely on this content as the sole basis for any Social Security, financial planning, investment, or related decisions. A professional adviser should be consulted and/or independent due diligence should be conducted before implementing any of the options directly or indirectly referenced. This article should not be construed as a solicitation to render personalized investment advice. Retirement Planners of America makes no warranty, express or implied, for any decision taken by any party in reliance upon the information discussed. While information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, Retirement Planners of America does not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed.

CEO and Senior Adviser, Retirement Planners of America

Ken Moraif, CFP, is CEO and senior adviser at Retirement Planners of America, a Dallas-based wealth management and investment firm with over $4.3 billion in AUM and serving over 8,000 households (as of May 2019). He is also the host of the radio show “Money Matters with Ken Moraif,” which has offered listeners retirement, investing and personal finance advice since 1996.

Source: kiplinger.com

Are Cats Happy in Apartments? 21 Experts Weigh In

Are cats happy in apartments? Learn from the experts what it takes to make sure your feline shines at home.

Whether you’re loving life in an enormous industrial loft, sticking it out in a small studio or living the high life in a highrise downtown, odds are, you either have a pet or you’d like to get one. If you are one of the many people that side with cats in the great cats vs. dogs debate, this article is for you.

Listed below are the responses from over 20 cat experts to the question: Are cats happy in apartments? If not, what can a cat owner do to improve their furry friend’s quality of life?

Read up and redefine your relationship with your cat or use the information to ready your apartment for a new addition in the form of a furry feline friend.

1. Bring the outside in

Man at the window with his happy cat

Man at the window with his happy cat

“Cats that have been raised indoors can be perfectly fine in an apartment, but the key is to provide them with enough stimulation,” explains Daniel from Catpointers.

“Possible solutions would be to adopt another feline friend or to get some interactive toys that your cat can play with. But my favorite solution is to bring the outside in. Consider building a natural cat tree or placing a few non-toxic plants around the house. My cat loves exploring them!”

2. Create cat territory

According to Amy Shojai, CABC, “Cats CAN be happy in apartments but it depends.”

“Kitties want to own territory and in apartments that have limited space, that can increase feline stress. A stressed cat tries to relieve their angst by spreading self-scent, scratching or urinating outside the box.” In an apartment or home of any size, this is a serious problem.

“When limited space poses problems, remember that cats love heights. Create second-story real estate for cats by clearing off one shelf in the bookcase or top of the refrigerator for a feline perch.”

3. Provide entertainment options

Cat on a cat stand looking at a plant

Cat on a cat stand looking at a plant

“Yes, cats can be happy in apartments,” says Katherine Kern, the award-winning author behind the Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat website.

“In fact, some cats might feel more secure in a smaller space. To maximize your cat’s space in an apartment, I’d recommend several cat trees, maybe some cat shelves/perches and a great window sill for your cat to look out the window. These options are important for cats in big houses, as well. This way, your cat has an outlet for scratching behavior (which is instinctual), room to run and jump and space to survey his or her domain.”

Speaking specifically to apartment residents, Momma Kat explains, “In a small space, it’s even more important that humans consider a cat’s enrichment needs.”

“Most cats aren’t satisfied with just laying around and doing nothing. They need mental stimulation and outlets for their instinctual behaviors, like scratching and hiding. When these needs aren’t met, we’re more likely to see feline behavior that humans dislike.”

4. Consider vertical space

“Are cats happy in apartments? Of course! But I understand the space concerns. We should think vertically, as cats do,” says Pamela Merritt from The Way of Cats.

“The best way to solve this is to give the cat the tallest, sturdiest cat tree we can afford. We’ve doubled the runway space in the room when we play wand toy with them. Racing to the top will exercise all their muscles.”

Training your cat to forego picking away at furniture for a scratching post instead, Pamela explains, is not as hard as it may seem from the outside. “We take them from the furniture to their own scratching post and tell them how happy we are when they scratch it. Now we have trained them to use their post. It’s that easy.”

“Cats are ambush hunters. They don’t need a lot of aerobic exercises. They need short, intense, bursts of activity. A cat tree and a loving person will take care of many needs. Even in an apartment.”

5. Make space for naps

Apartment cat napping atop a cat tower

Apartment cat napping atop a cat tower

No strangers to a daily nap, “Cats sleep anywhere between 12 and 20 hours per day, so apartment cats mostly need lots of nice, cozy and warm places to take naps,” explains Isabel Ludick, the Brand Coordinator, Marketing Director and Avid Animal Advocate behind Excited Cats.

Isabel explains the reasoning behind this by saying, “Cats instinctively sleep this much so they can build up energy to hunt at night. Therefore, apartment cats need lots of playtime and stimulation when they wake up in order to put their preserved energy to good use. Otherwise, they might direct their energy toward destructive behavior.”

Isabel capped off her thoughts by reminding everyone, “Cats are creatures of habit. If you provide them with enough stimulation, playtime, chill zones and lookouts, your cat will adapt to their new environment soon enough and get comfortable in their space.”

6. Buy an extra litter box (or two)

“Most cats will do just fine in an apartment, although you may wish to keep it to no more than two or three cats in a one-bedroom, provided they get along well,” explains Ro Delrose a Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Fab.

She suggests that people, “Place several large, open-top litter boxes (one per cat plus one extra) throughout your home in the areas where your cat likes to hang out. The litter box is a very significant source of the scent and helps cats feel that their territory is well marked and secure!”

7. Give your cat something to look at

Happy cat staring out the window

Happy cat staring out the window

“I have had three cats and ALL were happy in apartments,” explains Caren Gittleman from Cat and Dog Chat with Caren.

The key to her success, she explains is, “I have a cat tree in every room with a window. I have LOADS of toys. I save empty boxes and provide multiple lounging areas.”

Caren also mentioned, “Having a dog doesn’t hurt either or a companion cat. A playmate is always fun!”

8. Create a custom catio

“Cats generally prefer larger spaces, but they can absolutely be happy in an apartment with their owners,” explains Molly DeVoss, CFTBS, CCBC, CRM, FFCP of Cat Behavior solutions.

Molly explains that “There are many things a cat parent can do to improve quality of life. These include:

  • Engaging in prey play. An example would be interactive play with a wand toy, simulating the hunting sequence at least two times a day for 10-minute sessions each.
  • Creating a safe catio experience where kitty can get some fresh air but not get fully out
  • Taking walks in a harness and leash or an enclosed stroller.”

Molly was also sure to add, “When you have to leave your cat alone, play Cat TV (YouTube) for them to watch and hide food puzzles around the home.”

9. Make time for play

Cat riding on a skateboard with a kid watching

Cat riding on a skateboard with a kid watching

“Your favorite feline can absolutely be happy living in an apartment,” According to Amanda O’Brien of The Discerning Cat.

Amanda concedes that “Of course, cats would love lots of space to hunt and prowl. But this isn’t a pre-requisite for cat happiness.”

According to her, “There are two things you can do to make your apartment as cat friendly as possible:

  • Invest in a cat tower with scratching posts. If you have limited space invest in a cat tower that has a small footprint on the ground but goes quite high. Your cat will most enjoy jumping up and down the tower and investing in some serious scratching action. Cat towers can also be a great place to store cat toys and other cat paraphernalia, saving more room.
  • Try to spend some time every day playing with your cat. This may be with a feather toy or simply throwing a ball or a puzzle toy. If your cat has less space to move, keeping its brain busy will increase its happiness and playtime is a great bonding time for you and your favorite kitty.”

10. Get a furry friend for your feline

“Many of Meowtel’s clients are thriving in apartments,” explains the Meowtel team.

“Cat parents can make even a small studio apartment comfy for their kitties. Strategically placing furniture near windows will provide a source of entertainment when they’re not home. Cats love watching squirrels, birds and people outside!”

“Finding a companion for your kitty is another option.” The Meowtel team notes that this solution may not be applicable in every situation by saying, “Some cats enjoy being in pairs and appreciate the company, while some prefer to be on their own.”

Be sure to make the right choice for your feline friend!

11. Be attentive

white cat playing with a wand toy on wood apartment floors

white cat playing with a wand toy on wood apartment floors

“Cats definitely can be happy in apartments. What is important is not the size of the space, but how much enrichment and attention they get, no matter what kind of cat,” explains Mary Tan of Whisker Media.

“Too many people think cats are like living room furniture and don’t need anything. If you don’t have activities for them, that’s when destructive behavior happens. They will get bored. While not having a lot of space, a studio apartment can still be a playland!”

“Cats need toys, scratching posts and catnip. They need to play to stimulate their senses. It’s also important that you rotate their toys daily, so they think it’s a brand new toy! I have three rotating sets of toys that I change out daily, and my kitty, Dr. Farley Waddlesworth, thinks they are new each day! Also, cats are hunters and predators by nature.”

Mary summed it all up by saying, “I recommend hiding their food and treats throughout the apartment, even up high, so they have to work for their food just like they do in the wild.”

12. Enrich your cat’s environment

“We from Katzenworld believe that, just like with humans, some cats are happy living in apartments while others are not.”

“It’s all about environmental enrichment,” the Katzenworld team explains. “We are not talking about a gaming console or a TV for your feline friend. We are talking about species-appropriate enrichment, such as scratch pads, interactive cat toys, catnip or valerian toys! The more enrichment you provide your cat, the happier they will be.”

13. Equip your cat with the comfort essentials

Cat relaxing on a green couch in a modern apartment

Cat relaxing on a green couch in a modern apartment

“Of course, cats can be happy in an apartment,” says Phil from Upgrade Your Cat.

“Most breeds of cats have fairly small environments. What’s more important is what they have within their immediate surroundings than what’s available across a large area.”

“As long as you have a good cat tree, a couple of litter boxes that are not near their food or sleeping areas and provide plenty of affection, I’m sure you’ll have a happy and healthy cat no matter how small your apartment is!”

14. Stimulate your cat’s natural instincts

“With all cats,” explains Patience Fisher of Patience for cats, “simulating hunts with a wand toy is an important part of each day. Cats were born to hunt, and being able to do this instinctual behavior can greatly add to a cat’s contentment. When living in a confined space this is even more important.”

15. Mimic your cat’s natural environment

Feline on a white couch. Wand toy in the foreground, person on computer in the background

Feline on a white couch. Wand toy in the foreground, person on computer in the background

According to Chris from Caredicat, “Cats can be perfectly happy in small spaces such as apartments.”

“The things that make a cat happy in the outdoors are climbing, scratching and predatory behavior, such as chasing prey. The key is to mimic this as closely as possible inside of your apartment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cat hammock – This allows your cat to look out into the world and watch birds and people walk by which creates great stimulation for your cat
  • Scratching posts – A number of vertical and horizontal scratching posts around your apartment will allow your cat to sharpen its claws, as well as provide exercise and allow them to stretch their muscles
  • Toys – A big selection of toys and interactive toys is essential to provide physical and mental stimulation
  • Private space – Cats like somewhere to retreat if they are scared or anxious. Cardboard boxes or cat towers that feature a hideout box are excellent choices.
  • Playtime – It’s important to have a couple of short play sessions with your cat on a daily basis. This helps to create a great bond between the pair of you, as well as providing stimulation to keep your cat happy.”

If you can give your cat those five things consistently, the Caredicat team believes you and your cat will love life in your apartment.

16. Respect your cat’s basic requirements

“Cats can be happy anywhere as long as the right provisions are made available, says Katenna Jones of Jones Animal Behavior.

“The happiest cat in the world could thrive in a tiny studio apartment or an RV. At the same time, a very unhappy cat could be languishing in a sprawling mansion or farm. It’s all about environmental enrichment.”

Katenna elaborates on this idea of enrichment by explaining, “Environmental enrichment involves enhancing an animal’s environment to facilitate as many natural behaviors for that species as possible.”

The apartment cat happiness checklist:

  • Vertical climbing options such as shelves or stairs
  • Vantage points that are positioned at human foot height as well as waist height, as well as head height
  • Feeding out of food puzzles like those at Food Puzzles for Cats
  • Clicker training
  • Exercise wheels
  • Two large, easy-to-access litter boxes with small, natural granules

“Think of all the things that cats do naturally. Things like digging, sleeping, rolling around, running, playing, hiding and so on.”

17. Abide by the five pillars

White cat hanging out on a black book shelf

White cat hanging out on a black book shelf

“Whether they live in an apartment, townhouse or a traditional single-family home, all cats need access to important environmental resources. This includes access to food, water, litter boxes, rest and sleep areas and elevated areas or perches. These are known as the five pillars of a healthy feline environment,” states Dr. Michelle Meyer, the President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).

18. Make space for hunting and hiding

According to Holly, the founder of Cat Care Solutions, “Cats can be fantastic companions for apartment-dwellers. In fact, I once lived in a very small apartment with four cats of my own!”

Take it from Holly, “The key to a happy indoor apartment cat is enrichment. Simply put, enrichment satisfies your cat’s natural instincts, such as hunting, mental stimulation, bonding with you, observing their surroundings from a safe hideaway and getting up high. Bored cats are unhealthy, unhappy, destructive creatures. This is especially true for higher-energy breeds and personalities that don’t get enough activity.”

19. Take the time to take proper care

Happy woman holding her cat in her apartment bedroom

Happy woman holding her cat in her apartment bedroom

“Cats are happy in apartments as long as they are being well taken care of, they have all their needs and they are being trained to what their environment looks like every day,” says Zac Yap from Top Cat Breeds.

“Different cat breeds have different personalities. Not all cats like to go outside, for instance. They can adjust to their environment as long as the fur parent is giving them enough attention and treatment and not triggering them with any sudden noises.”

“Our team recommends investing in small, affordable cat furniture to increase the spaces where they can spend their time in your apartment.”

20. Understand your feline friend

“If your cat is going to be happy in an apartment, you need to know your cat,” Explains Anita Aurit of Feline Opines.

“For example, if you have a very active breed, like a Bengal, you’ll need to add some exercise and exploring time for your energetic feline.”

“It’s also possible to take your cat for a neighborhood stroll. Your cat should have a well-fitting harness and leash and you both can explore the neighborhood together. If things are a bit too busy in your neighborhood or your cat is not a fan of walks, consider a cat stroller.”

Anita encourages cat owners to remember, “Spending time with your cat makes them happy no matter whether you live in an apartment, a house or a mansion. Give them a little TV time with their favorite video from the cat YouTube channel of their choice. If your TV is safely secured, you can also leave a kitty video running for your cat to provide some interest to their day when you are away. One of my cats took a flying leap at the birds in the video and knocked the TV down which was good for the cat’s enrichment but not so good for my TV!”

“Finally, a little catnip always makes a day fun, whether it’s in a spray, a refillable toy or a catnip infused bag. No matter where you live, you and your cat can have a happy, fun and even adventuresome life when you are intentional about enriching their environment.”

21. Your cat can be content in a small space

Kitten kicking back on a small blanket

Kitten kicking back on a small blanket

“In our opinion cats are the purrr-fect animal for apartment living,” says Linda Hall, ABCCT, Executive Purrrr-ector and Meownipulator at Cat Behavior Alliance.”

One factor making felines the premiere apartment-friendly pets, explains Linda is, “They don’t need to go outside for walks or to relieve themselves and they don’t require as much floor space as dogs do. They can be happy even in a studio apartment.”

Find what works for you and your cat(s)

Regardless of the type of building in which you reside, what city you call home or where you go from nine to five, it’s possible to create a completely cat-friendly environment for your furry friend. Not an environment where your cat will simply survive, but one that both promotes comfort and incites excitement for you and your feline confidant for all the years you spend in your place together.

Source: rent.com

Trading Journal – What It Is, How to Keep This Log, and Stock Trading Examples

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People who become successful trading in financial markets have a pretty rewarding lifestyle. However, they didn’t earn their trading skills overnight. Professional traders build a trading plan that evolves over time — a plan that’s constantly adjusted based on the expertise the trader has earned through real-world experience. 

The best tool you can use to capture and learn from your own trading experience is a trading journal. 

A trading journal gives you a way to give yourself an assessment from time to time, tweaking your strategies and risk-management efforts as trends in your trading habits emerge. But, what exactly is a trading journal and how do you incorporate it into your day-to-day trading activities?

What Is a Trading Journal?

A trading journal is a tool traders use to track their performance and the factors that led to their decisions and trades. Traders often use the journal to learn from their experience and make adjustments to their strategies and habits as necessary. 


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A wide range of market participants use trading journals, from day traders to swing traders to forex traders. To build a trading journal, you simply record a range of data from your trading activity, including details like when you made trades, the triggers that caused you to enter and exit the position, and the performance of the trade. 

Traders build these journals using a wide range of methods, including pen and pad, Excel or Google spreadsheets, or free or paid software. More on these options later.


Why You Should Keep a Trading Journal

Beginners and successful traders alike can become better traders by tracking their trading history. When traders track every move they make and review those moves, trends in their trading style will likely emerge. 

Some of those trends are positive, but some are negative.  

Some of the most successful traders read over their trading journals regularly in an effort to define these trends. When they identify a positive trend, they adjust their trading plan to incorporate more of whatever led to those results. Conversely, if they spot a negative trend, traders can make a conscious effort to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. 


How to Create & Use a Trading Journal

Some may find the concept of a trading journal cumbersome at first, but over time they realize it’s far easier than they thought. Below, you’ll find an easy-to-follow guide that outlines how to build and use your trading journal. 

1. Choose a Format

Trading journals are generally created in one of three different formats:

Excel & Google Spreadsheets

Excel and Google spreadsheets are some of the most commonly used methods for creating trading journals because they make it easy for traders to organize the data they find most important. 

Traders typically enter their most important data as column titles, creating a new row for each trade. 

Written Book

Some traders prefer to use written books to record their activities. Not being confined to a spreadsheet field lets trades go into greater detail, with many including notes about their emotional levels and market conditions at the time of the trade. 

Trading Journal Software

You also have the option of using trading journal software that does the leg work for you. There are several such programs to choose from, with some of the most popular being:

  • TradeBench. TradeBench is a completely free trading journal software. Unlike much of its competition, there’s no paid subscription on the platform, thus no reason for tiered membership that locks some users out of some features completely. The company took an advertising approach to income, making providing free services to end users possible. 
  • TradesViz. TradesViz is an automated trading journal you can access for free. To unlock all features, however, you’ll have to pay $29.99 per month ($22.49 per month if you choose an annual plan). You may find the cost is worth it, with added tools that make it easier to understand trends in your trading process. 

2. Write Down the Information You Want to Track

If you choose to use an automated trading journal like those mentioned above, the information will be tracked for you. However, if you’re taking the hands-on approach with a spreadsheet or written book, it’s important that you track the right information. 

There are bits of information that fall into the must-have category, but there’s other optional information you may want to track to give you a deeper understanding of your trades. 

Must-Have Information

The information every trader needs to have in their trading journal includes:

  • Asset. You’ll want to start by tracking the asset names you decide to trade. 
  • Trade Setups. Trade setups are the basic conditions that need to be met in order for the trader to dive into an opportunity. These setups include data like percentage gains or losses over specific time frames, distance from support or resistance, or the crossing of moving averages.
  • Entry Points. The entry point of a trade is the price you paid to open it. This information will help you determine the performance of the trade later. 
  • Exit Points. Exit points are the prices at which you exit your positions. Subtracting the entry point from the exit point results in the trade’s profit or loss per share. 
  • Order Type. Many traders use a range of order types when taking advantage of an opportunity. Keep track of each order type you use and, if they’re special order types, whether they were triggered. 
  • Time Frames. You’ll likely find that the length of time the trade was open plays a role in its performance. In most cases, long-term trades tend to be more successful, but traders with strong technical analysis skills may find that taking bigger risks on shorter-term trades pays off in the long run. 
  • Position Size. Position sizes also play an important role in your success. Small positions may leave you underexposed to gains, whereas larger positions may leave you overexposed to risk. Over time, tracking the size of your trades will help you determine a happy medium at which you’re most comfortable with the risk-reward profile for each trade. 
  • Price Action. You want to track entry and exit points, but you should also track what happened between the two. Could you have made or lost more money on the trade? The only way to tell is to analyze what happened in the middle of the trade. Track the high points and low points the assets reach while each trade is open to see if you’re making the most of your trades. 
  • Trading Performance. Finally, you’ll need to keep track of the results of the trade. By analyzing both the best and worst trades you make, you’ll likely find trends in what made the winners and losers, helping to improve your performance in the long run. 

Optional Info for a Deeper Dive 

Some traders find it useful to take a deeper dive into the past when attempting to improve their future performance. Here are some other details of your trades you can track to get an even better view of how you’re performing and what you can do to improve:

  • Screenshots. Some traders embed screenshots of their trading charts into their spreadsheets for future analysis. Doing so allows you to dive deeper into the trading setup, why the trade was closed, and what signals can be adjusted to lead to better overall performance. 
  • Fundamentals. Traders who mix technical and fundamental analysis often realize improved performance. Tracking fundamental data like analyst opinion, price-to-earnings ratios, and upcoming events can help you understand why a stock moved the way it did. Finding trends in fundamental data that correlate with positive or negative results can make you a better trader. 
  • Trading Platform. Each trading platform comes with its own set of tools and features that often mean the difference between success and failure. Some traders use different trading platforms for different purposes. Tracking the trading platform you used on each trade could show you which platforms you’re most successful using. 
  • Market Conditions. Market conditions play a significant role in the day-to-day performance of traders. When you keep track of the overall market and compare its performance to yours, you’ll gain expertise that makes it easier to be successful whether the market is ebbing or flowing. 
  • Your Emotions. A solid trading plan includes strategies for dealing with emotions that can devastate returns. Some traders find it useful to record their levels of emotion from each trade. Over time, these traders learn when it’s best to take a break from trading until emotions die down. 

3. Record Each Trade Promptly

According to Forbes, the human brain has evolved to be more efficient than accurate. The longer you wait to log your trading data, the more likely it is that you’ll make memory-related mistakes. 

That’s why it’s best to record your trading data in real-time. 

It’s especially important to record your trading data before falling asleep. While you’re sleeping, your brain is organizing itself, often throwing away details it deems unimportant. Although your chances of accurately recording details fade with each passing minute, trades recorded from memory the following day are much more likely to be inaccurate. 

4. Review Your Trading Journal Regularly

Building a trading journal is the first step, but you’ll have to read it to really get anything out of it. Take the time to read through your trading journal at least weekly. You might find it useful to get in the habit of reading it nightly before bed. 

Regardless of whether you read your journal weekly or more frequently, there’s a strong chance you’ll be able to improve your future returns by analyzing your past performance. 

5. Adjust Your Trading Strategy as Needed

As you read your trading journal, pay close attention to the details of the most profitable as well as the most painful trades. Try to find correlations between the trades that led to big profits or losses, and pinpoint factors in your strategy that could be leading to these correlations. 

For example, if you find that you’re generally more successful when making swing trades than momentum trades, you may want to focus your efforts on becoming an expert swing trader and leave momentum trading to others who find it more effective. 


Trading Journal Example

Below is an example of two entries in a trading journal made using a Google spreadsheet.

Asset Name ABC XYZ
Trade Setup Bullish Crossover 3X ADV / 3% Intraday Gain
Average Entry $5 $10
Average Exit $5.50 $9.95
Order Types Used Market Order / Stop Loss Not Triggered Market Order / Stop Loss Triggered
Entrance Date & Time 1/3/2022 9:45 AM 1/3/2022 9:50 AM
Exit Date & Time 1/5/2022 10:32 AM 1/3/2022 10:01 AM
High $5.72 $10.02
Low $4.99 $9.95
Position Size $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Performance 10.00% -0.50%
P/L $100.00 -$5.00

These two trades include one that was a winner and one that was a loser. On the winner, the stop loss was never triggered and the trader exited with a 10% gain. On the loser, the stop loss was triggered and the trader exited with a 0.50% loss. 

Both trades have different setups and time frames, which may act as clues to why the trades led to profits and losses. 


Final Word

Trading journals play a major role in a trader’s growth from beginner to expert, and early adoption of such a tool will greatly reduce the learning curve. The key to taking full advantage of the tool is regularly looking back at your trades and determining what factors correlate with positive and negative outcomes. 

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GME is so 2021. Fine art is forever. And its 5-year returns are a heck of a lot better than this week’s meme stock. Invest in something real. Invest with Masterworks.

Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Stock Market Today: Stocks Finish Lower as Traders Mull Recession Odds

The potential for the U.S. to slip into recession was the topic du jour Monday as stocks kicked off the week with a wobbly, uneven session.

Over the weekend, former Goldman Sachs chief Lloyd Blankfein told CBS’ Face the Nation that recession was “a very, very high risk factor.” That opinion was met by a number of other calls Monday morning.

Wells Fargo Investment Institute, for instance, says “our conviction is that the chances of an outright recession in 2022 remain low” but believes odds are growing that 2023 could see an economic contraction. UBS strategists say the chances are different depending on where you look – their global economists say “hard data” points to a sub-1% chance of recession over the next 12 months, but the yield curve implies 32% odds.

“There’s no crystal ball to predict what’s next, but historical trends can come into play here. With the [S&P 500] closing 15% below its weekly record, there’s only been two times in the past 60-plus years that the market didn’t fall into bear territory after a similar drop,” adds Chris Larkin, Managing Director of Trading at E*Trade. “This doesn’t mean it’s bound to happen, but there is room for potential downside.”

Larkin says to keep an eye on major retail earnings this week – which will kick off in earnest with Walmart’s Tuesday report – to get a pulse check on the American consumer.

Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

Monday itself was a fairly quiet affair. Exxon Mobil (XOM, +2.4%) and Chevron (CVX, +3.1%) were among a number of plays from the energy sector (+2.7%) that popped after U.S. crude oil futures jumped another 3.4% to $114.20 per barrel.

Twitter (TWTR, -8.2%) shares dropped after Tesla (TSLA, -5.9%) CEO Elon Musk spent the weekend questioning how much of Twitter’s traffic comes from bots. Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said the move feels more like a “‘dog ate the homework’ excuse to bail on the Twitter deal or talk down a lower price.” TWTR stock has now given up all its gains since Musk announced his stake in the social platform.

The major indexes finished an up-and-down session with mostly weak results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to eke out a marginal gain to 32,223, but the S&P 500 declined 0.4% to 4,008, while the Nasdaq Composite retreated 1.2% to 11,662.

Also worth noting: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway will file its quarterly Form 13F soon. Check back here tonight as we examine what Buffett has been buying and selling. 

stock chart for 051622stock chart for 051622

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 closed out the session with a 0.5% dip to 1,783.
  • Gold futures gained 0.3% to settle at $1,814 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin was off 1.6% to $29,551.92 (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • JetBlue Airways (JBLU, -6.1%) ramped up its hostile takeover attempt of Spirit Airlines (SAVE, +13.5%) on Monday, urging SAVE shareholders to vote against a buyout offer from fellow low-cost air carrier Frontier Group Holdings (ULCC, +5.9%). JBLU last month offered to buy Spirit Airlines for $33 per share – a premium to the $21.50 per share ULCC offered in February – but SAVE’s board of directors rejected the bid citing concerns over regulatory approval. JBLU followed up in early May with an “enhanced superior proposal,” including paying a $200 million, or $1.80 per SAVE share, reverse break-up fee should regulators block the deal.
  • Warby Parker (WRBY) fell 5.3% after the eyeglass maker reported a loss of 30 cents per share in its first quarter. This was much wider than the per-share loss of 3 cents the company reported in the year-ago period and missed the consensus estimate for breakeven on a per-share basis. Revenue of $153.2 million also fell short of analysts’ expectations. WRBY did maintain its full-year revenue guidance of $650 million to $660 million. “We remain cautiously optimistic on shares as WRBY continues to show ability to grow the top line, open new stores, and is recession resistant as a lower cost option for non-discretionary spend,” says CFRA Research analyst Zachary Warring (Buy). “We see the company leveraging SG&A to become profitable in the second half of 2022.”

Check Out Europe’s Dividend Royalty

If you’re seeking out more stable opportunities amid an uncertain U.S. market … well, the rest of the world is admittedly looking pretty shaky, too. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few morsels worth a nibble. 

BCA Research notes that while there’s negative news around the globe, “European benchmarks already discount a significant portion of the negative news.” And looking ahead, inflation there is expected to peak over the summer “as the commodity impulse is decelerating” – that should help stagflation fears recede and help European shares.

Graham Secker, Morgan Stanley’s chief European and U.K. equity strategist, chimes in that his firm remains “overweight [European] stocks offering a high and secure dividend yield.”

We’ve previously highlighted our favorite European dividend stocks, which on the whole tend to produce higher yields than their U.S. counterparts.

But we’d also like to shine the spotlight on Europe’s twist on an American income club: the Dividend Aristocrats. The S&P Europe 350 Dividend Aristocrats have somewhat different qualifications than their U.S. brethren, but in general, they’ve proven their ability to provide stable and growing dividends over time.

Read on as we look at the European Dividend Aristocrats.

Source: kiplinger.com

3 Investment Ideas for Retirees Right Now

Ah, retirement. Picture long, blissful walks on the beach. Or you’re watching the sunset from the balcony of your cruise ship and thinking: This is it – the way life should be. Then you casually check your smartphone to see how your investment accounts are doing and, gasp! You might not be as rich as you thought were.

Retirees are facing major headwinds right now when it comes to investing: Troubles in Ukraine, higher inflation and stock market jitters to name a few. If you are in or near retirement and wondering what you can do with your portfolio, here are three ideas I share with some of my clients:

1. Consumer defensive stocks

I want clients to be as diversified as possible. However, I may tilt their portfolio to consumer defensive stocks for retired or more conservative clients. Defensive stocks generally include utility companies like natural gas and electricity providers, healthcare providers and companies whose products we use day-to-day, like toothpaste companies or food and grocery stores.

According to the Center for Corporate Finance, a leading finance educator to financial professionals, defensive stocks tend to be less volatile than other types of stocks. Less volatility can mean less upside potential, but it can also mean less downside risk, which I find is what many retirees want – less downside (and hopefully better sleep at night).

2. Bonds for retirees – but not just any bonds

I like municipal bonds for retirees. Municipal bonds are issued by states, cities or local municipalities. There are many types of municipal bonds. General Obligation municipal bonds are backed by the taxing authority of the issuer – meaning the state or municipality uses taxes to pay the interest to bondholders. Revenue bonds are municipal bonds backed by a specific project. A toll road uses tolls as the revenue to pay bondholders.

Interest from municipal bonds is usually exempt from federal taxes (though there may be alternative minimum tax (AMT) considerations for certain types of investors). If you live in the state where the bond is issued, the interest may be exempt from state taxes as well.

I like tax-free interest for retirees for several reasons. Retirees may have other sources of taxable income, such as pensions, annuities or rental income, whose income may push them into a higher-than-expected income tax bracket. Retirees may also take money out of 401(k)s and traditional IRAs in retirement for required minimum distributions, which are taxable as ordinary income. Having some tax-free interest may prevent the retiree’s income from creeping up into the next higher tax bracket in retirement.

Findings from the 2019 Municipal Finance Conference suggest there is less risk of default with general obligation bonds than revenue bonds. This is because revenue bonds typically depend on the vitality of a project, which is more uncertain than the state or municipality’s ability to raise taxes to pay for a general obligation bond. For this reason, I may tilt a portfolio more toward general obligation municipal bonds than revenue bonds for retirees.

Municipal bonds are not without risk. There is no guarantee of principal and market value will fluctuate so that an investment, if sold before maturity, may be worth more or less than its original cost. Like any bond, municipal bond prices may be negatively impacted by rising interest rates. Also, municipal bonds may be more sensitive to downturns in the economy – investors may fear a struggling state’s economy may be unable to repay the bond.

For these reasons, I like to be as diversified as possible. I may use short-term muni bonds for more principal stability and less interest rate risk. I might also blend in intermediate-term municipal bonds for additional yield. If the portfolio is larger than $250K I prefer to buy individual municipal bonds for greater customization and tax-loss harvesting opportunities.

3. Beyond stocks and bonds

I like to sprinkle in small amounts of other investments. I call these my “satellites.” Depending on the client’s financial situation and tolerance for risk, I may add in real estate or small amounts of commodities, including coal, gold, corn and natural gas. I generally use mutual funds or exchange-traded funds for the diversification and the relatively low cost. I usually only buy small amounts, maybe 2%-5% of a portfolio, to help diversify the portfolio and provide an inflation hedge.

Inflation is a significant real enemy for retirees. Rising prices erode the purchasing power of a portfolio. One nice thing about owning real estate is the owner often can raise rents, which is a hedge against rising prices. I may buy Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) which pool together various properties. I may also use Private REITs, which are not traded on the public market, so they are less liquid, for more sophisticated investors. Private REITs are not suitable for everyone, as they tend to carry higher fees, don’t have published daily prices, but they often provide higher yield than publicly traded REITs.

For more on fighting inflation see my blog post Could Inflation Affect Your Retirement Plans?

Parting thoughts

Investing in retirement is different than investing while working. In retirement, an investor’s time horizon shrinks – they need the money sooner to live off and there’s no paycheck coming in to replenish the account. There is also less time for a retiree’s portfolio to recover from a stock market correction. Because of this, I find retirees fear losses more than they enjoy their gains.

Understanding these differences is important for successful investing in retirement. Using these three approaches – shifting slightly more to consumer defensive stocks, using municipal bonds to help prevent further taxable income, and adding small amounts of inflation-fighting investments like real estate and possibly commodities – in my opinion can all help smooth out the ride for retirees.

The author provides investment and financial planning advice. For more information, or to discuss your investment needs, please click here to schedule a complimentary call.

Disclaimer: Summit Financial is not responsible for hyperlinks and any external referenced information found in this article. Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss. Investors cannot directly purchase an  index. Individual investor portfolios must be constructed based on the individual’s financial resources, investment goals, risk tolerance, investment time horizon, tax situation and other relevant factors.  

CFP®, Summit Financial, LLC

Michael Aloi is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner and Accredited Wealth Management Advisor℠ with Summit Financial, LLC.  With 21 years of experience, Michael specializes in working with executives, professionals and retirees. Since he joined Summit Financial, LLC, Michael has built a process that emphasizes the integration of various facets of financial planning. Supported by a team of in-house estate and income tax specialists, Michael offers his clients coordinated solutions to scattered problems.

Investment advisory and financial planning services are offered through Summit Financial LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser, 4 Campus Drive, Parsippany, NJ 07054. Tel. 973-285-3600 Fax. 973-285-3666. This material is for your information and guidance and is not intended as legal or tax advice. Clients should make all decisions regarding the tax and legal implications of their investments and plans after consulting with their independent tax or legal advisers. Individual investor portfolios must be constructed based on the individual’s financial resources, investment goals, risk tolerance, investment time horizon, tax situation and other relevant factors. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to Summit Financial LLC. Links to third-party websites are provided for your convenience and informational purposes only. Summit is not responsible for the information contained on third-party websites. The Summit financial planning design team admitted attorneys and/or CPAs, who act exclusively in a non-representative capacity with respect to Summit’s clients. Neither they nor Summit provide tax or legal advice to clients.  Any tax statements contained herein were not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding U.S. federal, state or local taxes.

Source: kiplinger.com

How to Pack a Go-Bag: The Expert Advice that Could Save Your Life

When an emergency happens, the last thing you want to ask yourself is, “does my go-bag have everything I need?”

If there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that uncertain times will come. Whether those uncertain times take the form of an unexpected natural disaster, a global pandemic or anything in between, the most important thing is that you and your loved ones get prepared for whatever comes knocking on your door.

Regardless of whether you live in a crowded city apartment, a house in the suburbs or a bunker off the grid, knowing how to pack a go-bag is an essential skill that plays a major role in your safety and the safety of those closest to you.

If you’re curious about how to pack a go-bag, wondering what materials you need for your go-bag or just someone who likes to prepare for it all, the tips below from survivalists and preparedness experts can help ensure that you know what you need and that you have it all in one place for when uncertainty comes.

1. Prepare for 72 hours

Tent in a meadow with a go-bag in front of it

Tent in a meadow with a go-bag in front of it

Alan Smith, a.k.a. the Prepared Survivalist, asserts that “A go bag is there to help you reach your bug out location so it typically has items to help you survive 72 hours until you get to your desired location. Because of that, there are a lot of items that may be useful to you and your specific situation. And in my opinion, the following are the must-have items for your go-bag.”

He went on to list his essentials for a scenario that requires up to 72 hours of survival:

  • Water or some sort of purification system to help you survive multiple days.
  • Food for multiple days. Make sure it’s calorie-dense so it won’t take up a bunch of space.
  • Spare clothing. Depending on where you live, you need to pack for the type of weather that you most likely encounter. Pack clothing that will help you stay warm.
  • Hand crank radio or some sort of way to keep yourself informed.

He summed up his thoughts by simply stating, “I believe that these items cover the basics of survival.”

2. Ask yourself the important questions

Map and compass

Map and compass

GL, the survivalist behind Great Lakes Prepping explained, “You first have to determine your own personal needs and objectives. Where are you going? Under what circumstances are you going there?”

GL went on to break down his essential go-bag items into five categories:

1. Tools

  • Multi-tool
  • Pocket knife
  • Folding saw
  • Disposable lighters (or matches)
  • Tiny sewing kit
  • Fishing line with some hooks

2. Warmth

  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Mylar blankets

3. Safety

  • Safety glasses
  • Earplugs
  • Pistol and extra magazines with ammo
  • Pepper spray

4. Health and sanitation

  • Tick-removal tweezers
  • Moist towelettes
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste

5. Miscellaneous

  • Extra charging cord for phones
  • Map of the area you’ll be traveling in (in case there is no cell service)

GL capped off his must-have list by emphasizing the fact that the items above do not comprise a complete go-bag, but do cover the essentials. “My personal go-bag has a lot more stuff in it than what I’ve listed, but I guess those would be my must-haves for my particular destination and potential requirements.”

3. Think versatility

person dipping a mug in a stream for fresh water

person dipping a mug in a stream for fresh water

Matt from the emergency planning blog Easy Emergency Plan explained his process for packing a proper go-bag in detail. “There are so many options when building your go-bag, but I’ve found that it is best to focus on the essential supplies, which are water, food, first-aid, shelter, hygiene and personal security.”

Matt’s favorite go-bag items include but are not limited to:

  • Tourniquet
  • SAM splint
  • Compression bandage
  • Tarp
  • Paracord
  • Toilet bags
  • Foldup jacket (the kind that folds up into itself really small)

Matt also made it a point to note, “A go-bag needs to be light enough to carry, so you’ll want to select gear that is as versatile as possible. The more uses an item has, the less you need to carry.”

4. Cover the basics

red and blue first aid kids on a white background

red and blue first aid kids on a white background

Evan from Know Prepare Survive emphasized the basics in his response. His essentials include “a pen and paper, a good flashlight, a small first aid kit, a bandana, a small roll of duct tape, bottle of water (that can be reused), snacks such as nuts, extra cash, a lighter, pair of socks and medicine.”

He believes that if you pack these in your go-bag, you’ll have your basics covered. This frees you up to focus on more important things, knowing you have a cache of useful supplies to fall back on.

5. Make “Bob” your best friend

Survival items laid out on a wooden table

Survival items laid out on a wooden table

Daniel Kilburn, the consultant, author and coach behind Emergency Action Planning broke down his approach to packing a bug-out bag, or as he likes to call it, Bob.

“In evacuation situations, your Bug Out Bag, or ‘Bob,’ is your friend. It’s important to consider what you’ll need to make it through a few days away from home and how much weight you can carry.”

Always prepared, Daniel encourages people to ask themselves the following questions when they pack their go-bag.

  • How much weight can you carry?
  • What time of year is it?
  • Are you evacuating on foot or by car?

Some of the most essential items in Daniel’s go-bag include:

  • Three-day assault pack
  • Poncho
  • Dried meat, dried fruit, nuts and granola bars
  • Backpack trowel
  • Wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Gloves and N95 masks
  • Insect repellant and sunscreen

Daniel is always sure to remind people to pack as lightly as possible, “If you are evacuating with children or pets, their packs need to be of an appropriate weight for them to carry. Heavy backpacks can cause serious injury.”

6. Start with the simple things

emergency preparedness essentials on a white background

emergency preparedness essentials on a white background

The team from The Survival Doctor provided their three must-have items for any adequate go-bag. They say every go-bag should include:

  • Hand pump water purifier
  • Flint and steel
  • Emergency bivy

While they acknowledge that the list could go on and on, they’re confident that the three items above can serve as a great selection of base items on which to build a go-bag that fits your specific needs. These are also good items to keep in the car as they don’t take up too much space and are useful in a number of different situations.

7. Make sure to take care of everyone

Man with kid and go-bag in tow

Man with kid and go-bag in tow

When it comes to being prepared for it all, Diane Vukovic of Primal Survivor made sure to not forget about the kids, as well as the essentials.

For families with infants and young children:

  • Formula and bottles with disposable liners and nipples — enough for at least three days of feedings
  • Diapers
  • Baby wipes

A way to recharge your phone:

  • Consider a solar panel or hand-crank model so you are not reliant on the power grid

Copies of vital documents:

  • Driver’s license
  • Health insurance cards
  • Prescriptions and medical records
  • A list of contacts with their phone numbers and addresses.

Diane also suggests, “To keep the documents safe, you can put them on an encrypted USB. You can also store them securely on the cloud so they will be accessible regardless of where you are.”

8. Know where you’re going and what you need to get there

fully packed go-bag on the ground

fully packed go-bag on the ground

JJ Johnson from the American Prepping Academy explains that, when it comes to planning your escape, “You need to have a pre-identified location determined before you have to bug out.”

Once you know where you’re heading, it’s time to pack your go-bag. JJ’s basic recommendations are as follows:

  • A sturdy pack with the ability to add on pouches and integrate a water bladder
  • One to two meals ready to eat
  • Three to five days’ worth of freeze-dried meals
  • Heavy-duty clothing in neutral or camo colors
  • Tent or hammock with rainfly
  • Waterproof map, compass and protractor
  • Ranger beads

It’s important to note that these are just a few of the items JJ identifies as essential or important to have in a proper go-bag. If you want JJ’s full list of recommendations along with in-depth explanations for the items, check out his Bug Out Bag 101 video.

Prioritize safety

No matter how you look at it, safety is the name of the game. When you pack your go-bag, make sure you’re thinking about your personal safety and the safety of those closest to you in order to build the most useful bug-out bag for your specific situation.

Source: rent.com

The Best Places to Buy Cheap Cat Food With High-Quality Ingredients

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

There’s nothing like owning a cat. These playful creatures can easily tug at your heartstrings and become fixtures in your life through affection they only show on their terms. 

But it’s getting more expensive to feed our furry friends, which brings up a major downside to cat parenthood. So it’s crucial to know where you can find inexpensive, high-quality cat food.

The Best Places to Buy Cheap Cat Food With High-Quality Ingredients

Our pick for the best overall place to buy cat food is Amazon. The online retailer offers a massive selection, frequent promotions, savings through autoship, and plenty of low-priced options. Plus, it’s a convenient one-stop shop, as it has everything else your cat needs plus products for humans. 

Other retailers that made the list shine in their own way, like having low prices, same-day delivery, or free in-store pickup. 


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Best Overall: Amazon

Amazon Logo 1

Amazon rose to stardom by offering the lowest pricing on just about everything they sell, from pet supplies to products for the humans in the household as well. 

Knowing the sheer volume of sales Amazon does, most brands want to be featured on the company’s website, meaning you have access to almost any kind of cat food you could want. Amazon even offers prescription-grade pet food at fantastic prices. 

You can filter the search results to find the food you’re looking for quickly, and if you’re a Prime member, you’ll enjoy free two-day shipping on most brands. 

Moreover, you can sign up for regular automated deliveries on a schedule you choose through Amazon Subscribe & Save. That can save you up to 15% off the regular price of your cat’s food, depending on how many products you have on subscription.


Best for Free In-Store Pickup: PetSmart

Petsmart Logo 1

PetSmart built its name by offering decent prices on high-quality name brands. Some cat food brands the company carries include Meow Mix, Iams, and Friskies. 

The company offers competitive pricing on high-end name brands. But it’s not known for carrying lower-cost brands. Nonetheless, PetSmart shines when it comes to convenience. 

Sometimes, you need cat food today. PetSmart provides free same-day in-store pickup. So you can get your hands on the food you need when you need it without worrying about expensive cat food sitting on your porch for anyone to take. Just place your order on your lunch break and pick it up on the way home. 


Best for Same-Day Delivery: Petco

Petco Logo 1

Petco is known for offering competitive pricing on the highest-quality brands in cat food. 

You can filter your online search results to find the exact type of food you need.  Whether you’re looking for kitten food, adult cat food, or an option for all life stages, it’s available at Petco. You can also filter by a host of other options, such as flavor, brand, and dietary preference. 

While it doesn’t carry the lowest-cost brands, there is one area where Petco really shines. 

In most areas of the U.S., Petco offers free same-day delivery. So you can have your fur baby’s food delivered right to your front doorstep within hours. 

Like other pet stores, Petco carries a wide selection of treats, toys, and accessories for cats. Same-day delivery is also available on these products. 


Best for Affordability: Walmart

Walmart Logo

Walmart made its name by offering some of the best prices on goods of all kinds. 

It has a large selection of low-cost options for feeding your cat. However, if you’re looking for a specific high-end brand name or your cat has dietary restrictions, you may need to look elsewhere. 

Nonetheless, Walmart is a low-cost, convenient option for the vast majority of cat owners. Moreover, with access to a wide selection of goods for pets and humans, it’s a one-stop shop for just about anything. 


Best for Convenience: Chewy

Chewy Logo 1

Chewy rose to popularity by offering compelling promotions, low prices, and a convenient way to access cat food and pet supplies like treats and medication. 

Chewy provides access to one of the largest food selections for your furry friends, with top brands like Fancy Feast, Purina One, and Blue Buffalo. 

You can use filters to narrow the massive list of available options. Whether you need dry cat food or wellness options like grain-free, gluten-free, limited-carbohydrate, hairball-reduction, or even prescription foods, it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. 

Being an online retailer, the company has limited overhead expenses and has done well at passing those savings to its customers. 

Adding to the platform’s convenience, Chewy offers autoship, meaning you don’t have to remember to order your cat’s food. When you sign up for autoship, you’ll get 35% off your first pet supplies order, 20% off your first prescription medication order, and 5% off all future autoship orders of select brands. 


Methodology: How We Select the Best Places to Buy Cheap Cat Food

We used four key metrics when evaluating the different places to buy cheap cat food. These metrics include brand availability, price, filtering options, and convenience. 

Availability

While the goal is to buy cheap cat food, it’s essential to find a balance between cost and quality. That’s why the first thing we looked at was the selection of brands from each option. The more brand availability, the more weight we gave the option. 

When determining brand availability, we paid close attention to the availability of brands focused on wellness and dietary restrictions too. 

Price

With the average cat owner spending hundreds of dollars per year on cat food and significantly more when they own multiple cats, we paid close attention to the prices offered through each option. 

When assessing price, we looked at two criteria:

  1. Lowest Overall Price. First, we looked at the lowest-price cat food available, regardless of brand or food type. 
  2. Lowest Prices on Specific Products. We also compared the prices of some of the most popular products when determining the most suitable options. In our comparison, we found that it’s crucial to shop around, as prices vary wildly from one supplier to the next. 

Filtering Options

Even if a retailer has the type of food you need at a competitive price, if you can’t find it, you’re not in very good shape. 

We combed the websites of each pet food supplier paying close attention to the filtering options. In particular, those that offered options based on price, brand, life stages, and dietary restrictions received a heavier weighting than those that did not. 

Convenience

Finally, we focused on convenience. In particular, we looked for:

  • Delivery Options. The most convenient options offered free delivery and same-day delivery or in-store pickup. We also looked for options that offered subscriptions. 
  • Other Product Availability. We looked at the other products available through the provider. After all, when you own a cat, food isn’t the only thing you need to buy. 
  • Human Product Availability. The ultimate convenience when buying cat food is the ability to purchase human products as well. As such, solutions that offered products for human cat companions were weighted more heavily than those that did not. 

Best Places to Buy Cheap Cat Food FAQS

Taking care of any animal leads to multiple questions, especially when it comes to feeding that animal. A cat is no different. These are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding the purchase of cheap cat food.

Is It OK to Go With the Cheapest Option?

If you’re in a bind, food is food, and the cheapest option will do. On the other hand, remember that food quality makes a difference. It’s best to focus on finding food that’s best for your cat, then shop for the lowest prices on that particular food. 

Keep in mind that feeding your cat the lowest-quality food for an extended period could result in health problems down the road, which can become quite costly. 

Should I Buy Dry or Wet Cat Food?

You should consider multiple factors when determining if wet or dry cat food is best. Those include:

  • Your Cat’s Weight. According to PetMD, dry cat food has been linked to obesity among our feline friends. If your cat already has an obesity problem, wet cat food is best. 
  • Your Budget. Wet cat food tends to be more expensive than dry varieties. As such, it can be tough to afford for cat owners with a limited budget. 
  • Health Conditions. Some health conditions lead to dietary restrictions that require a larger water intake. In these cases, wet food is the best way to go, as your cat will get more water from that than it would from dry food. 

If you’d like your cat to experience the benefits of wet cat food but are on a budget that makes dry food the more feasible option, you can mix them to make the wet food last longer on a budget.

How Important Are Supplements?

Dietary supplements for cats are available over the counter. However, as with humans, overuse of supplements can lead to significant issues in a cat’s health. 

If you think your cat needs a supplement, it’s worth spending a few bucks to take your pet to the vet and get a professional’s opinion. They can also help you determine how much to give your feline friend.

How Do I Safely Change My Cat’s Diet?

Cat’s stomachs are overwhelmingly sensitive. As a result, abruptly changing your cat’s food can result in diarrhea and other digestive system discomforts for your fur baby. If you’ve decided it’s best to change your cat’s food, do so in stages. 

Simply add a little bit of the new food to the old food. Every day or two, increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old food by the same amount. 

When Should I Change From Kitten to Adult Cat Food?

Kittens and adult cats have different dietary requirements, and it’s essential to start with kitten food and work your way to adult cat food. But many wonder when that transition should start. 

In general, it’s best to transition your cat from kitten to adult food at 1 year of age. However, changes to food could affect your cat’s health. So it’s best to consult a veterinarian before making that decision. 


How to Choose the Best Place to Buy Cheap Cat Food

Choosing the best place to buy cheap cat food is a relatively simple process. First and foremost, find suppliers that offer the food you need. 

Once you’ve found suppliers, compare the prices to determine the cheapest place to buy. You’ll also want to look into how convenient shopping with that supplier is. If the price difference only amounts to a few pennies, it may be best to choose the option that offers the highest level of convenience. 

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Since 2017, Masterworks has successfully sold three paintings, each realizing a net anualized gain of +30% per work. (This is not an indication of Masterworks’ overall performance and past performance is not indicative of future results.)

Masterworks Sidebar 2

Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Social Trading Defined – Is Mirroring Trades of Your Peers a Good Idea?

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Additional Resources

Trading in financial markets is intimidating for many beginners. While the potential to earn strong returns is an exciting concept, the potential to experience losses is a constant concern. 

Many beginners lean on the trading community for advice and recommendations related to their trading activities, whether trading in the forex, cryptocurrency, commodities, or stock markets. Online communities devoted to investing and trading bring a social element to the process. 

But what exactly is social trading, how does it work, what are the pros and cons, and should you take part in it?

What Is Social Trading?

Social trading is a new form of online trading that mixes market research with social media. There are several social networking websites traders use for communication. Some are traditional social media sites like Twitter, and others are dedicated to the market, such as Stocktwits. 


Since 2017, Masterworks has successfully sold three paintings, each realizing a net anualized gain of +30% per work. (This is not an indication of Masterworks’ overall performance and past performance is not indicative of future results.)
Sign Up Now

Social traders use social platforms for sharing information back and forth. However, unlike other online social activities, social traders center their discussions around what’s happening in the market rather than what’s happening in their personal lives. 

In this way, beginners are able to connect with professional traders who point them to solid market opportunities. These experienced traders often share details of the technical analysis they used to uncover a market opportunity, fundamental data that suggests wide movements, and the strategies they plan on using in the trade. 

Traders can get a deep understanding of market sentiment through the use of social media and tools that show how active the social trading community is in relation to a stock ticker, currency, cryptocurrency, or other financial asset. 


How Social Trading Works

Like all forms of trading, social trading is a short-term trading concept. Many traders who use this strategy focus on day trading, meaning they never leave a position open for more than a single trading session. 

The social trading process is simple:

Step #1: Choose Social Trading Apps to Try

There are several social trading platforms online — a list of the most popular options is below. You’ll need access to at least one of them to start the social trading process. 

Start by digging through your options and choosing a social trading app or three to give a shot. When doing so, look into the size of the communities, who’s in the communities, and features offered to ensure the apps you choose are a good fit. 

Step #2: Look for Opportunities

Use the tools available on the social network of your choice to find opportunities. 

For example, if you choose to use Stocktwits, take a look at the heatmap to determine what stocks are trending. The heatmap shows large and small boxes varying in color. Size denotes how many people are talking about the stock and the brightness of the color represents the percentage gains or losses experienced in the current session.

As a trader, you’ll want to jump on the highest volatility moves with the most social activity. So, look for the largest boxes shaded in the brightest colors. 

Other sites have top message activity lists, most active chat rooms, or a wide range of other lists and tools. The idea is to use those tools to find the assets that are being talked about the most. 

Step #3: See What Traders Are Saying

The premise behind social trading is that people move the stock market. When a lot of people are saying the same thing, there’s a strong likelihood that they’re also acting on their thoughts, which leads to high volume in the direction the herd suggests it should go. 

For example, if lots of traders see a technical sign of a rally ahead for a stock, you’ll see lots of chatter about it on your favorite social trading platform. An influx of traders hoping to enter a position in a stock all at once means more buyers than sellers, which drives the stock price up. 

Take the time to read several posts on the asset’s message board to determine what the crowd expects to happen. 

Step #4: Make Your Move

Once you’ve chosen an asset you want to trade, there are two ways to go about making your move:

  1. Do Your Own Analysis. Many traders use social media to find opportunities, then analyze the opportunities they find to see if they fit in with their strategies. These traders don’t feel comfortable blindly following others and trust in their own technical analysis skills. 
  2. Follow the Crowd. This is by far the most dangerous option, but it’s one way that beginners work to learn the art of trading. If the overall opinion of traders is that a stock will go up, there’s a strong likelihood that increased buying will lead to upward movement. Those who lack technical analysis knowledge, or simply trust in the crowd, tend to follow the moves the masses suggest in their own trading portfolios. 

Social Trading Platforms

There are several different social trading networks online, but they all can be sorted into one of two categories — social networks and social brokers. Here’s a few of the most popular:

Social Networks

Social networks are social media sites, such as Facebook, that give users a way to communicate online from anywhere in the world. Some social networks are geared specifically to traders, while others are popular for more general purposes. Here are the most popular options:

  • Stocktwits. Stocktwits is essentially the Twitter for investors and traders. The platform hosts a message board for all stocks on major United States exchanges, a heatmap that shows which stocks are trending, and one of the largest communities of social traders online today. 
  • Twitter. Twitter is a popular social network for several reasons, but traders happen to be all over it. When you want to see what the masses are saying about a stock, all you need to do is add a dollar sign before its ticker symbol in the search bar. For example, you can search for mentions of Apple with $AAPL. You’ll be surprised at how much you find!
  • Yahoo Finance. Yahoo Finance isn’t exactly a social network, but when you land on a stock’s dedicated page, you’ll find a tab labeled “Conversations.” Here you’ll see what Yahoo users have to say about the stock you’re interested in. 
  • InvestorsHub (iHub). Finally, iHub is an old-school forum with very new-school and highly successful traders in its audience. The platform features various message boards including titles like “Breakout Boards,” “Stocks,” “Commodities,” “Forex,” and “The Lounge” where traders chat and share ideas. 

Social Brokers

Seeing the value in social trading, some brokers took the concept to the next level by adding social capabilities to their platforms. Some of the best social brokers include:

  • eToro. Founded in 2007, eToro has been known to use technology to its advantage, and stays on the cutting edge of trading tools. The platform has several social features, including copy trading features that allow you to copy the moves of other users. 
  • Zulutrade. Zulutrade is another online broker that offers several social features, including copy trading. You’ll also be able to interact with other investors, automate your portfolio, and learn from some of the best traders online here. 

Social Trading vs. Copy Trading

Social trading is often coupled with copy trading, also known as mirror trading. Although copy trading is a form of social trading, social traders don’t always blindly copy others in real time, as is the case with copy trading. 

Many social traders look for trading ideas based on the activities of expert traders, but instead of acting along with the herd, they take the time to analyze the opportunities on their own. These traders use technical analysis to determine the best entrance and exit points and to ensure the move fits in with their trading strategies. 

Mirror traders, by contrast, often do little to no research on their moves. Instead, they find successful traders using platforms like eToro and Zulutrade and use automations to copy the moves made in their portfolios. 


Pros and Cons of a Social Trading Strategy

As with any other form of investing or trading, a social trading strategy comes with benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a list of the most important to consider:

Pros of Social Trading

Social trading has become a popular strategy, and for good reasons. Here are some of the biggest pros:

  1. Beat the Market. Because the masses move the market through supply and demand, social trading gives you the opportunity to tap into the fastest moving assets. If done properly, there’s significant potential to beat the market using this strategy.  
  2. Community. Because money is often a taboo topic, the finance world is often a lonely place. Social trading brings community to finance, giving beginners the opportunity to meet other like-minded traders, and allowing experts the opportunity to share their experience. 
  3. Learning. Some people learn well by reading tutorials or watching videos, but some learn best by watching a professional work. Social trading gives newcomers the opportunity to learn about financial markets by watching and communicating with the pros.  
  4. Simplicity. With the introduction of mirror trading, the ability to trade successfully has become far more widespread. You don’t have to be an expert to learn from an expert — and trade like one.

Cons of Social Trading

There are plenty of benefits to social trading, but there are also a few drawbacks that should be considered. 

  1. Following the Crowd. Following the crowd isn’t always the wisest way to make investment decisions. Oftentimes, newcomers jump on an upward-trending stock just before traders take profits, leading to significant losses. 
  2. A False Safety Net. Considering the wisdom of the community to be a safety net, many social traders (especially beginners) forgo their own analysis altogether. This false sense of security can lead to poor market decisions and losses.  
  3. Trading Is Risky. Whether you’re social trading or using stock screeners to find your opportunities, trading is a risky concept. Trading (as opposed to investing) involves making short-term moves and banking on volatility. Unfortunately, short-term predictions tend to be inaccurate, and no trader is right 100% of the time. It’s important to understand the risks associated with trading before taking part in trading activities of any kind, social or otherwise.  

Should You Be a Social Trader?

Whether you should become a social trader depends on multiple factors. These characteristics describe the best candidates for social trading:

  • You’re Able to Check Emotions. Emotional trading can lead to painful declines in your portfolio. The best candidate for any form of trading has the ability to check emotions at the door and strictly adhere to a trading strategy. 
  • You’re Risk Tolerant. Because short-term trading is inherently risky, it’s important to have a healthy appetite for risk. 
  • You’re Willing to Research. Although following the crowd is an option, it’s best to do your own research prior to making any trades. If you’re not sure how to analyze a stock, learn about technical analysis before getting started. The best trading decisions tend to be those that have been well-researched. 
  • You’re a Social Person. The term “social trading” implies you will be interacting with others. It’s a strategy best used by socially inclined people. If you enjoy meeting new people and taking part in conversations online, you’ll likely enjoy social trading. 

Final Word

Social trading is an exciting concept. It gives market participants a way to tap into some of the biggest moves the market has to offer while opening the door to new relationships and educational opportunities. 

However, social trading is still a form of trading, and the risks should be considered. 

If you decide to take part in the process, be sure to do your research and develop a strong understanding of technical analysis. Although you can blindly follow the herd, you may follow the sheep right into a wolves’ den. Doing your own research is generally the best way to go about making your investing and trading decisions. 

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Since 2017, Masterworks has successfully sold three paintings, each realizing a net anualized gain of +30% per work. (This is not an indication of Masterworks’ overall performance and past performance is not indicative of future results.)

Joshua Rodriguez has worked in the finance and investing industry for more than a decade. In 2012, he decided he was ready to break free from the 9 to 5 rat race. By 2013, he became his own boss and hasn’t looked back since. Today, Joshua enjoys sharing his experience and expertise with up and comers to help enrich the financial lives of the masses rather than fuel the ongoing economic divide. When he’s not writing, helping up and comers in the freelance industry, and making his own investments and wise financial decisions, Joshua enjoys spending time with his wife, son, daughter, and eight large breed dogs. See what Joshua is up to by following his Twitter or contact him through his website, CNA Finance.

Source: moneycrashers.com

7 Reasons Why You Should Not Buy a Home Right Now

Man holding up his hand to stop a home purchase
Asier Romero / Shutterstock.com

If it feels like last year was a crazy one for the housing market, that’s probably because it was. In 2021, houses sold at the fastest rate in history.

You may be tempted to jump into the fray, but don’t let FOMO — that is, the fear of missing out — lead you into a costly mistake. This may not actually be the best time to buy a home, and here are the reasons why.

1. Mortgage rates are rising

Repayment of mortgage loans for house
Cherries / Shutterstock.com

You may have heard the news: The Federal Reserve increased the federal funds rate in March for the first time since 2018. And when the feds increase their rates, lenders are sure to follow.

Rates for 30-year fixed mortgages have already jumped above 4.5%. That means it could be cheaper to stay in your existing home rather than buy a new one.

2. Your choices are slim

expensive housing
Krakenimages.com / Shutterstock.com

Even if you want to buy a home, there may not be many properties from which to choose. In January, the nationwide inventory of homes for sale hit its lowest level since 1999.

That means current homebuyers may have to make compromises about the location and features of their new house. It may be better to wait until inventory levels rebound, and then you can buy the home you really want.

3. Homes may be overpriced

AlyoshinE / Shutterstock.com

Because there are so few homes on the market, the ones that are available may be overvalued. This seems to be especially true in parts of Florida and Arizona.

Rather than pay too much by buying now, wait until the market cools off.

4. You could get stuck in a bidding war

Frustrated businessman upset about rising taxes
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

If you shop for a home now, you could find yourself in a bidding war with other potential buyers. That will only increase your price further.

Between July 2020 and June 2021, homes typically sold at their full asking price with 35% of buyers paying more than the asking price, according to the National Association of Realtors. That trend seems to be continuing this year in many areas.

To see where you are most likely to get caught up in a home-buying feeding frenzy, check out “15 Cities Where Homebuyers Are Most Likely to Face Bidding Wars.”

5. It will likely cost more than you think

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

You may think the cost of a house can be measured by its mortgage payment, but owning a home comes with all sorts of extra expenses that can drain your wallet. These hidden costs include insurance, utility bills, taxes and more.

In fact, an analysis by real estate firm Clever found the average homeowner spends $15,405 per year on their home beyond what they pay for their mortgage. Letting the landlord take care of the leaky faucet sounds better and better already, doesn’t it?

6. Most people think this is a bad time to buy

confused businessman
Kues / Shutterstock.com

It’s best not to make financial decisions based on public sentiment, but if you are looking for a second opinion, most Americans agree now is a bad time to be buying a house.

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index found 70% of those surveyed in January thought now was a bad time to buy. Only a quarter said now is a good to buy, an all-time low.

7. Renting can be a better way to build wealth

buy or rent a home
Aysezgicmeli / Shutterstock.com

Conventional wisdom says buying a house is the way to go if you want to build wealth — after all, real estate is known to appreciate in value year after year. In reality, though, once you tack on all those hidden expenses, your overall financial gain from a house might not be what you think.

If your goal is to make money, renting might be the way to go. Invest the money you save by being a renter, and your gains on stocks and bonds could outpace any appreciation you would see in a home.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com